My good friend the psychiatrist informed me of a way I could make some extra cash. She gave my information to one of her colleagues that teaches at a medical school in the area. I will not disclose here which school.
Before I know it, I’m asked to be a Standardized Patient for a full body exam. I would be the guinea pig that taught med students how to test reflexes, how to properly palpate the liver, how to feel for glands and other exciting things of that sort. The director told me to wear a bathing suit top and shorts, so the doctor could check for horrible diseases without having to disrupt too much clothing.
To my complete and utter horror, when I walked into the exam room, there was only a bed, a doctor, and a cameraman. Whaaaaaat????
And in my head I’m trying to figure out what on EARTH my friend signed me up for. Don’t porn videos have similar beginnings? Where are all the students? I was ready to be funny and witty in front of a group; I was not ready to have my body parts zoomed-in on and then broadcast to a lecture hall of students.
But I quickly forgot my anxieties when I reminded myself how much money I was racking up per hour. I could do this. I can do anything.
The exam was strange, and I was constantly trying not to look directly into the camera, pick my nose, burp, or embarrass myself to the mysterious people watching me. After a while I completely melted away. As the doctor’s hands were percussing, palpating, I was on a boat feeling wind in my hair. I was lying on my own bed, staring at the ceiling, counting sheep. I was calling upon my deepest meditation powers. I barely heard the doctor address the class, and then me.
“Female patients have breasts. But they also have lungs underneath them. Just ask your patient to move their breasts out of the way.”
And then to me: “Could you please push your breasts to the sides?” Done. “Could you push only your left breast to the left?” Done. Listening, breathing, listening. “Now lift your left breast up.” Done. It’s normal, fondling yourself on camera. After three rounds of “lift up your left breast”, I was the perfect puppet. I knew exactly when he wanted to listen to the underbelly of my boob.
After four hours of poking, prodding, palpating and percussing, we were finished. I had made it through a slightly mortifying yet financially lucrative situation. When they asked if I would come back again two days later for another demonstration, I accepted.
Somewhere in here, there’s a poem. I haven’t found it yet. But the things we English majors do for money never ceases to surprise me.
Does anyone want to pay me to write a poem? Or move my breast to the left? I’m pretty good at both.